Man United 1 Man City 0

Mickey Thomas

Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Man­chester City 0, Old Traf­ford, Eng­lish Foot­ball Lea­gue Fir­st Di­vi­sion, Mar­ch 22, 1980. Welsh in­ter­na­tion­al Mickey Tho­mas sco­red the win­ning goal for Dave Sexton´s Man­chester Uni­ted te­am in a closely con­tested 1-0 Fir­st Di­vi­sion tri­umph ag­ainst Man­chester City in front of a bois­ter­ous crowd of more than 56,000 spec­tat­ors at Old Traf­ford in the 100th Man­chester Derby.

Born and grow­ing up in the small rur­al vil­lage of Moch­dre in North Wales, Mickey Tho­mas had star­ted his roller coast­er play­ing ca­reer wi­th Di­vi­sion Three club Wrex­ham in 1969 at the age of fif­teen. Ac­cord­ing to an old Welsh say­ing, the best Welsh­men are those who live their lives out­side of Wales. As for Tho­mas, the hard-hit­ting and strong-run­ning flanker was la­ter dur­ing his pro­fes­sion­al life to ap­pear for a num­ber of Foot­ball Lea­gue te­ams, in­clud­ing Man­chester Uni­ted, Brighton and Hove Al­bion, West Brom­wich Al­bion, Shrews­bury To­wn, and Leeds Uni­ted be­fore he at long last re­joined fir­st love Wrex­ham on a free trans­fer in the sum­mer of 1991. All in all, the way­ward wing for­ward clocked up an im­press­ive 603 Foot­ball Lea­gue ap­pear­ances for his vari­ous clubs be­tween 1972 and 1993, con­trib­ut­ing 77 hits dur­ing the pro­cess. As for hon­ours, he won the Third Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­on­ship wi­th Wrex­ham in 1977-78 as well as the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­on­ship wi­th Chel­sea in 1983-84. He also re­ceived an FA Cup run­ners up medal wi­th Uni­ted in 1979, when the red shirts suf­fered a 3-2 de­feat ag­ainst Ar­senal, and dur­ing his two spells at Sto­ke City, he was named Play­er of the Year in bo­th 1982-83 and 1990-91. Mickey Tho­mas la­ter said him­self that Man­chester Uni­ted was prob­ably a little bit too big for him, and that he nev­er prop­erly settled down at the club. On the in­ter­na­tion­al level, he amassed a total of 51 ap­pear­ances for Wales and played wi­th great in­ter­na­tion­als in the shape of Bri­an Flynn, Ma­rk Hug­hes, Rob­bie Ja­mes, Kev­in Ratcliffe, Ian Rush, and Ne­ville Southall be­tween 1976 and 1986.

Sec­ond pla­ced Man­chester Uni­ted had played out a goal­less draw wi­th top-flight new­comers Brighton and Hove Al­bion at Gold­stone Gro­und in their last Fir­st Di­vi­sion fix­ture, whi­le re­leg­a­tion strug­gling Man­chester City had suf­fered a heavy 3-0 de­feat ag­ainst high-fly­ing Ar­senal at their Maine Road ho­me. In the re­verse meet­ing of the 1979-80 sea­son, Uni­ted had be­en on the re­ceiv­ing end of a 2-0 de­feat ag­ainst City at Maine Road and they were look­ing to ex­tract re­venge on their neigh­bours. At Old Traf­ford, bo­th sides tent­at­ively felt each oth­er out dur­ing the early sta­ges of the der­by mat­ch. Man­chester Uni­ted came clo­se to tak­ing an early lead, how­ever, when Scot­land in­ter­na­tion­al Joe Jor­dan al­most con­ver­ted a dan­ger­ous cross ball from North­ern Ire­land mid­fielder Sam­my Mc­Ilroy, but his fierce head­er was bloc­ked by the Man­chester City de­fence. And then a little bit la­ter in the ga­me, Mickey Tho­mas re­ceived the ball on­ly a few yards out­side the pen­alty area and burst for­ward in­to the box, be­fore un­leash­ing a power­ful low shot which ho­me goal­keeper Joe Cor­rigan just ma­naged to save. And shortly af­ter in the fir­st pe­riod, Man­chester City play­maker Ste­ve Da­ley hit a long dis­tance shot, on­ly to watch Ga­ry Bai­ley in the Man­chester Uni­ted goal pull off a mag­ni­fi­cent save.

Fol­low­ing the ha­lf time re­fresh­ments, The Man­chester Reds fi­nally broke the de­fens­ive dead­lock as of­fens­ive minded full­back Ar­thur Al­bis­ton fou­nd Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­al wing­er Ste­ve Cop­pell who back-heeled the ball to Tho­mas who­se ef­fort de­flec­ted off Man­chester City mid­fielder To­ny Henry and over Cor­rigan three min­utes in­to the sec­ond pe­riod. The Light Blues hit back im­me­di­ately and loc­al born at­tack­er Ro­ger Pal­mer had a great op­por­tun­ity to equal­ise for the vis­it­ors, but his shot from in­side the eight­een-yard area went wide. The Man­chester Der­by swung to and fro be­tween the two te­ams, but the Old Traf­ford out­fit held firm and ev­entually won the pul­sating con­test by the score of one to noth­ing thanks to the early sec­ond ha­lf goal from Tho­mas. The res­ult at Maine Road meant that Man­chester Uni­ted re­mained sec­ond in the Di­vi­sion One stand­ings wi­th 44 points col­lec­ted from 33 mat­ches played, six points adrift of lead­ers Liver­pool. Man­chester City, mean­while, now fou­nd them­selves just four points ahead of Der­by Coun­ty who were sit­ting 20th in the ta­ble. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Ga­ry Bai­ley, Jim­my Nich­oll, Gor­don Mc­Queen, Ar­thur Al­bis­ton, Mar­tin Bu­chan, Ray Wil­kins, Lou Ma­cari, Joe Jor­dan, Sam­my Mc­Ilroy, Mickey Tho­mas, Ste­ve Cop­pell. Sub­sti­tute: Ash­ley Gri­mes. Man­chester City Te­am: Joe Cor­rigan, Ray Ran­son, Nicky Re­id, Tom­my Booth, Tom­my Caton, Paul Power, Ste­ve Da­ley, To­ny Henry, Kev­in Reeves, De­nis Tue­art, Da­vid Ben­nett. Sub­sti­tute: Ro­ger Palmer.


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